A White Coat

For some, a costume
For others
A calling

I wonder how you’ll wear it?

When I sought a career in medicine
I thought I was entering a world
Of invariable care and hope
Of selfless selflessness

All of that appealed to me
Maybe I forgot
we were human too
But it's more than that
 it’s appalling

And I wonder again
A costume or a calling

I’ve seen doctors gossip about patients
Right outside their door
I’ve seen doctors ostracize other doctors
Patient encounters feel more like interrogations, more like checklists
than conversations
A student finishes their oath to do no harm
And in the next arm  is then taught to perform a comprehensive interview and exam in under 20 minutes.
Would  Hippocrates be ashamed of the hypocrisy
Are the words we repeat, just that

A costume
Or a calling

Do the words of no harm apply only to our patient
Or to everyone we encounter?
Are we speaking only of physical harm?
I think the answer is clear.

If you decide who deserves your compassion.
You are not compassionate.
If you decide who deserves your empathy.
You are not empathetic.
If you decide who deserves to be included.
You’re not inclusive.
If you decide who deserves your judgment.
You are not, in fact, non-judgmental.

I wish these traits were as reflexive as knowing our ABC’s
That before you turned around again,
to laugh at your classmate's question,
Or make the student on your rotation, who’s there to learn,
feel less than for knowing less than you
Or your colleague rejected, for X, Y, or Z
I hope an alarm rings clear in your head
And you remember the oath you once took
To first do no harm

I hope for you, it is a calling
But if for you, it is a costume,

They say the type of care you give
comes back to you

In your case


I hope it doesn’t